15 Times The MCU Blatantly Retconned Itself

List Rules
Vote up the most obvious examples of the MCU changing its mind.

The MCU burst onto the scene with Iron Man in 2008, and went on to become an almost unprecedented cultural behemoth. Looking back, it almost seems like the franchise was destined to succeed, but some blatant retcons along the way allude to a different story happening behind the scenes. 

Instead of planning the entire universe all at once, or copying the comic book storylines, the MCU gained success by focusing solely on the story at hand. This created a series of wildly fun films that play just as well alone as they do as part of a whole, but this method has necessitated a few retcons in the MCU along the way (which is bound to happen with any series that makes it to 23 films and counting). These are some of the biggest MCU retcons. 


  • 1
    761 VOTES

    The MCU Timeline Is Confusing At Best

    The MCU Timeline Is Confusing At Best
    Photo: Spider-Man: Homecoming / Sony Pictures Releasing

    Even with 23 movies, the MCU is impressively easy to sift through and understand. Very little recasting has taken place, and the films relate to each other in meaningful ways. For the most part, all is well. With that said, how long exactly has it been since the invasion of New York seen in The Avengers

    The timeline became noticeably jumbled during Spider-Man: Homecoming, when the film explicitly stated that eight years passed between the Chitauri attack on New York and Spider-Man's solo movie. But this time jump can't be quite right. If the events of The Avengers take place in 2012, the year the film was released, then Homecoming takes place in 2020. We know that's incorrect, because Kevin Feige confirmed that Avengers: Infinity War takes place four years after Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, in 2018.

    There are other films that add to the confusion, but the point is that the timeline just doesn't add up. Marvel officially owned up to this mistake and retconned the timeline with the book Marvel Studios: The First Ten Years. In the new timeline, Spider-Man: Homecoming takes place just four years after Avengers. Also, Iron Man takes place in 2010 instead of 2008.

  • 2
    1,136 VOTES

    Odin's Treasure Room Contains 'Fake' Artifacts

    Odin's Treasure Room Contains 'Fake' Artifacts
    Photo: Thor: Ragnarok / Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

    Imagine working as a prop designer on the first Thor film. You're a massive fan of the comics, and you're designing pieces to place in Odin's treasure room. Obviously, you're going to include references and Easter eggs in the form of props that fans of the comics will recognize from the stories they love. Little do you know the MCU is going to include 21 more movies, and every well-known artifact from the comics is going to be mined for content. 

    This created a strange problem for the writers of later films - like how could Odin's Infinity Gauntlet be real if Thanos has the gauntlet with him in space? Thor: Ragnarok fixes this problem with a throwaway line spoken by Hela. She enters the throne room, sees the gauntlet, and proceeds to push it over while announcing, "Fake! Most of the stuff in here is fake." 

    There you go! No more continuity error! Apparently, Odin is just an all-powerful Norse god with a lot of fake loot.

  • 3
    679 VOTES

    Well, Actually, There Is A Real Mandarin

    Iron Man 3 left many fans disappointed with its handling of Iron Man's archnemesis, the Mandarin. Instead of a criminal genius with ten powerful rings, the Mandarin of the MCU is revealed to be just a hedonistic actor playing a role.

    That is, until Marvel released their short film, "Hail to the King," in which the real Mandarin calls out the Ben Kingsley knockoff. One can only assume this was Marvel bending to fan backlash and not something they had up their sleeves the entire time. It's hard to imagine that the original pitch for Iron Man 3 included one of the writers saying, "And then, just as everyone hates what we did to the Mandarin, we'll reveal on a Blu-ray exclusive short film that the actual Mandarin has been around this whole time."

  • 4
    590 VOTES

    S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Name Isn't As New As Coulson Makes It Seem

    In the first Iron Man movie, Coulson introduces himself to Pepper Potts without the help of the handy acronym "S.H.I.E.L.D.," even telling Pepper that "we're working on" a way to shorten it. Then, along comes Captain Marvel, and S.H.I.E.L.D. is retconned to have been using the acronym since 1995. 

    So, then, did nobody tell Coulson? Was this some sort of practical joke? 

  • 5
    538 VOTES

    Why Tony Stark Shows Up At The End Of 'The Incredible Hulk'

    Why Tony Stark Shows Up At The End Of 'The Incredible Hulk'
    Photo: The Incredible Hulk / Universal Pictures

    When Tony Stark shows up at the end of The Incredible Hulk, it seems like he's there to talk about recruiting the Hulk for the Avengers Initiative. According to Kevin Feige, not following up on this moment ended up nearly painting the studio into a corner. 

    If Tony Stark was there for the Hulk, then that moment doesn't quite fit into the story set up in Avengers. To fix this, Marvel released the short film "The Consultant," which reveals that Tony Stark was sent by Agent Coulson to try and fail to recruit the Abomination. 

  • 6
    962 VOTES

    Peter Parker Is In 'Iron Man 2'

    Everyone knows Peter Parker first swung into the MCU during Captain American: Civil War - and, as it turns out, everyone is wrong. Tom Holland has confirmed a popular fan theory that claims Peter Parker originally showed up much earlier in the franchise. 

    During Iron Man 2, a legion of Hammer drones wreak havoc on a crowd of civilians, and one brave little boy wearing an Iron Man helmet stands up to these robots alone. As the boy raises his toy glove to blast a drone, the real Iron Man swoops in for the assist. 

    Fans online have theorized for years that this kid is, in fact, the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man himself, and both Tom Holland and MCU chief Kevin Feige have confirmed their suspicions. But, like, there's absolutely no way this boy was originally meant to be Peter Parker.